Going beyond Howard County's borders for a moment, I want to go on the record supporting HB949 and SB 739.
These bills, if passed and signed into law, would "ban the state of Maryland from offering procurement contracts, or making any investments in companies that boycott Israel."
Israel is not perfect. No state is. Moreover, I expect more of our democratic allies...Canada, the U.K., and Israel to name a few. And finally, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not possess the will necessary to forge a governing coalition that would take the steps required to set the stage for successful negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Of course, he needs partners on the Palestinian side who are willing and able to be statespeople, to make the sacrifices that Arafat was unwilling to make in the waning days of the Clinton Administration in his negotiations with Ehud Barak. Barak put a once-in-a-lifetime deal on the table, and Arafat - like a coward - walked away.
That said, the Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is pressuring Israel is negotiate with the Palestinian Authority at a time when the PA does not appear committed to acting like a responsible government. Yes, we can talk about settlements and how individual Palestinians have been treated. We are debating, for the most part, legitimate arguments. The problem is that an Israel that feels threatened is more likely to turn to its more reactionary parties and figures who will promise their constituencies security (while their actions may actually compromise Israel's long-term security interests).
The BDS movement, through economic coercion, is not incentivizing Israel to head to the negotiating table (again, with whom precisely?). And regardless of what one thinks of Bibi, he will eventually pass from the scene. Punishing him, or his government, is not the best path for those truly seeking a just peace in that troubled corner of the Middle East.
So I hope that our entire Howard County delegation supports the appropriate bills. Israel remains an ally, and it should be treated like such.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.